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Alexandria City Council To Consider Public Art Policy

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Some public art pieces remain controversial for years, like this recent addition to Mount Vernon Avenue.
Michael Pope
Some public art pieces remain controversial for years, like this recent addition to Mount Vernon Avenue.

City leaders in Alexandria are about to consider a new policy to require developers to contribute public art.

For many years, developers have donated public art to a variety of buildings in Alexandria — contributions that range from $10,000 to $10 million.

The current policy requires the city to negotiate with developers for public art and affordable housing, two areas that commercial property owner David Millard says compete for influence.

"We continue to see no nexus between land development and public art as opposed to the affordable housing contribution, where there's clearly a direct relationship between creating housing and jobs," says Millard.

Councilman David Speck says the uncertainty creates a problem.

"What do developers hate more than anything else uncertainty," says Speck. "You want to control your costs. You don't want costs added on that you can't control. And you definitely want to know what the specifics are."

Speck is offering a compromise that will be considered  Tuesday night. Instead of negotiating for each individual development project, he proposes all applicants contribute 30 cents for each square foot of development, with a cap of $75,000.


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